June 30, 2009 / Idea File Supplement

Looking for Inspiration

Written by James Cronin

Magazines are a major source of inspiration for designers. It takes weeks of practice for students to learn how to scour the pages for an element and use it in an entirely different manner for a unique design. Here, two yearbook students at Rancho Cucamonga High School, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., explain how they searched for design elements and how they used them in spreads.

William Furio, student life editor

How did you get started designing tour pages?
First, I sat with my fellow editors. We looked at magazines and graphic design books for ideas that reflected our cover, which features a lot of circles and lines. We all tried to come up with a basic look we were going for. From there, I took books home and went through them, marking pages that showed things that looked interesting.

What specifically were you looking for?
I was looking for circles incorporated into layouts as graphics, text wraps, and headlines, for example. I found lots of ideas that inspired me. I took three or four graphic concepts and incorporated them into my designs.

Did you feel like you were copying the work of others?
No. You just recycle ideas and let your own vision take over. I didn’t copy ideas; I was inspired by them. What makes it yours is your own vision, and what you do with the idea.

Did you apply basic rules of design like eyeline and dominance?
I was aware of the basic rules. I understand that they provide a foundation, but I couldn’t work that way, so I spent hours working on my designs, sometimes two to three hours a day.

Were you pleased with the outcome?
Yes. This is the first opportunity I had to create something and have it published. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Aide Aceves, editor in chief

What were you looking for when you were designing your book’s opening?
I liked the symmetry of a layout I found that used a lot of white space to draw attention to what was on the page. It had just one photo, some text, and a large initial letter.

How did you adapt it?
I centered the elements on the page to reflect our cover design, and I used lots of white space around them. I added a couple pictures on the right. Featuring just a few photos, I think, forces you to choose outstanding pictures. I also tried some different things with the text and added elements from the cover.

How did looking at professional graphic design help you?
More than anything, it’s just getting inspiration. It’s too hard to start with nothing; everyone is influenced by something. I borrowed ideas. If I’d copied, it would look exactly the same, but if you compared the design I looked at to my finished product, you would notice the use of white space and that’s about it–they both have a strong sense of white space.

How much time did you spend designing your opening?
All together from design to completion, I spent at least 15 to 20 hours. The creative process is fun. There are frustrating times because I got stuck, but in the end I get satisfaction from knowing people will look at it and hopefully feel it’s an art form. A yearbook is more than just a scrapbook; so much goes into it. It’s a work of art.

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James Cronin